• Flash FloodsSeismic Forensics and Its Importance for Early Warning

    A February 2021 rockslide and the subsequent flood , in India’s Dhauli Ganga Valley, had killed at least a hundred people and destroyed two hydroelectric power plants. The analysis of this flood disaster in the Himalaya may help establish an early warning system for flash floods.

  • EvacuationDisasters: To Flee or Not to Flee

    By Sonia Fernandez

    The Montecito debris flows that occurred in January 2018 were the result of a rare confluence of two uncommonly severe events: the Thomas Fire — at that time the largest wildfire in California history — which for weeks burned through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties; and the intense winter storm that followed. Researchers say it is important to keep residents — and emergency management offices — informed about rare but potentially lethal natural events.

  • Volcanic EruptionsMinor Volcanic Eruptions Could “Cascade” into Global Catastrophe

    Researchers call for a shift in focus away from risks of “super-volcanic” eruptions and toward likelier scenarios of smaller eruptions in key global ‘pinch points’ creating devastating domino effects.

  • EarthquakesEarthquake Expert Who Advised the Haiti Government in 2010: “Why Were Clear Early Warning Signs Missed?”

    By Luigi Di Sarno and Adam Mannis

    There have been very few improvements in Haiti’s seismic early warning systems between the 2010 and the 14 August 2021 earthquakes. For example, a seismic network was installed in some private residences in different locations in Haiti. These data can be easily and freely accessed online. But this network has not been efficiently used for early warning alerts. A quick examination of the data revealed that at least two strong motions (with magnitude 4.0 or above) were recorded before August 14 along the Enriquillo Plantain Garden Fault. So the warning signs were there, but nobody – it seems – was looking out for them.

  • EarthquakesOptical Fibers Detect Earthquakes

    Optical fibers, the underground optical cables that transmit a lot of information at a time, are familiar to us. But few would associate optical fibers with earthquake detection.

  • EarthquakesU.S. Most Widely Felt Earthquake: 10 Years On

    Ten years ago, millions of people throughout the eastern U.S. felt shaking from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia. No lives were lost, and it was not the strongest earthquake to have occurred in the eastern U.S., let alone the western U.S., but the Virginia earthquake was likely felt by more people than any earthquake in North America’s history.

  • EarthquakesEarthquake Forecasts a Step Closer to Reality

    Earthquakes — like lightning — strike unpredictably. For decades, scientists have struggled to reliably give forecasts for major earthquake hotspots, but now, an international team of scientists has embarked on a new initiative to do just that.

  • European floodsReport from Europe’s Flood Zone: Researcher Calls Out Early Warning System Gridlock amid Shocking Loss of Life

    By Jeff Da Costa

    In my Ph.D. research, I study how we can effectively adapt to the consequences of increasing severe weather events under climate change and what can be done to prepare for them and mitigate their impact. One area I’m interested in is early warning systems, or the lack thereof, during extreme weather events, such as the recent floods in western Europe. While the climate is certainly a complex system that is difficult to predict with any certainty, the unfolding catastrophe is a sad reminder of just how inadequate early warning systems can be.

  • Earthquakes early warningSmartphone Network Offers Inexpensive Earthquake Early Warning

    A new study demonstrates how Earthquake Early Warning using smartphone technology can be both inexpensive and effective for millions of people. 

  • Flood warningsEarlier Flood Forecasting Could Help Avoid Disaster in Japan

    In Japan, thousands of homes and businesses and hundreds of lives have been lost to typhoons. But now, researchers have revealed that a new flood forecasting system could provide earlier flood warnings, giving people more time to prepare or evacuate, and potentially saving lives.

  • TsunamisPreviously Unrecognized Tsunami Hazard to Coastal Cities Identified

    A new study found overlooked tsunami hazards related to undersea, near-shore strike-slip faults, especially for coastal cities adjacent to faults that traverse inland bays. Several areas around the world may fall into this category, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Izmit Bay in Turkey and the Gulf of Aqaba in Egypt.

  • EarthquakesEarthquake Early Warnings Launched in Washington

    When the Big One hits, the first thing Washington residents notice may not be the ground shaking, but their phone issuing a warning. This week, the ShakeAlert early warning system was activated in Washington state, and it will send earthquake early warnings throughout the state.

  • EarthquakesEntire U.S. West Coast Now Has Access to ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning

    After fifteen years of planning and development, the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system is now available to more than fifty million people in California, Oregon and Washington, the most earthquake-prone region in the conterminous U.S.

  • AlertsSmartphone-Powered Emergency Alert System

    Computer science researchers have created and tested a new, Bluetooth-based system for disseminating emergency messages in an urban environment. The researchers say they wanted to fix inefficiencies in how emergency or hazard messages are disseminated. The messages are usually sent to the public through broadcast media or physical signs. 

  • FloodsCombining News Media and AI to Rapidly Identify Flooded Buildings

    Artificial intelligence (AI) has sped up the process of detecting flooded buildings immediately after a large-scale flood, allowing emergency personnel to direct their efforts efficiently. Now, researchers have created a machine learning (ML) model that uses news media photos to identify flooded buildings accurately within 24 hours of the disaster.